The rat visited at 5:37 p.m. every night. While I was in Haiti, we clocked him by the minute. We’d enjoy dinner on the outside veranda and at 5:37, Ratatouille (as we affectionately nicknamed him), would run along the roof of the veranda and dash off to parts unknown. We made up a whole life for him. Father. Husband of Mrs. Ratatouille. Factory worker or garbage sifter, possible chef or tiny rat accountant.
Ratatouille was just part of the fun in Haiti.
One of the biggest joys of my time came as I met Jesus there. I met him in the director of the orphanage who has a heart for the starving children, I met him in the staff who love and serve from a deep place of compassion. And I met him in Heather, an adoptive mom whose sacrificial love touched a deep place in me.
You’d like Heather too – fun, spunky and kind, her story is perfect to share as we come up on Christmas day.
Heather is a petite gem from the Chicago suburbs. She moved to Haiti in order to bond with their son, Izaiah. She initially planned to be there for just a few months – until the adoption was finalized. She and her husband, Matt, knew the separation would be worth it for what it would give their son.
Three months turned into six months. Six months turned into twelve. Heather is at nineteen months and counting now. Living in Haiti amidst the chaos to love, nurture and ultimately rescue their little boy.
Heather hates spiders, but has faced down multiple tarantulas with a grimace and a sturdy shoe.
She loves order, but has dealt with chaotic traffic, distant gunshots, cold showers and spotty electricity.
She loves her family, friends and her husband, but has spent many holidays and Sunday meals away from the comfort of their care and the warmth of their love.
Even today, as we all celebrate with family and friends in preparation for Christmas, she and her husband are in Haiti, tending to the needs of a little boy who knows them only as “Mom” and “Dad.”
Heather reminds me of Jesus. He left a world of comfort and peace. He left a place of love and order to come here. To enter a dusty, stinky manger. Heather didn’t have to give up her world of electricity, warm water and family fun to be with Izaiah. Nor did Jesus have to give up his world of divine hope, fellowship and comfort.
But that’s what love does.
Love enters our world. Love lives our pain. Love holds on despite the sacrifice. Love never gives up.
In a broken world where tragedy strikes on a regular basis, I’m profoundly grateful for the powerful examples of love God has planted in my path. And when I think of this young mom giving up every comfort to love her baby boy - in order to one day bring him home to the place she has prepared… it’s enough to melt my heart.
Because that’s how Jesus loves us – He gave up everything to enter this dark place – so we could find our way to the home He has lovingly prepared for each one of us.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you for people like Heather, bright lights in our lives. And thank you for your sacrifice – not only to die and rise again, but to come and live in our mess in the first place.